Not all Republican lawmakers appeared quite so eager to employ congressional oversight tools to seek the memo, however.
In response to a question about whether he would try to obtain it, Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is currently investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, reportedly told journalists that “the burden is on The New York Times, if they’re reporting it, and they’ve got somebody who’s got the document.” According to Politico’s Elana Schor, Burr said: “They need to get the document and get it released.”
Burr’s committee, though, has the power to issue subpoenas, just as other House and Senate panels do. The Senate Intelligence Committee website states that “subpoenas authorized by the committee for the attendance of witnesses or the production of memoranda, documents, records, or any other material may be issued by the chairman, the vice chairman, or any member of the committee designated by the chairman.”
In response to an e-mailed question about whether Burr’s committee would attempt to subpoena the Comey memo, a representative for Burr replied: “The committee will continue to follow the facts where they lead.”
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters on Tuesday that he has asked Comey to testify “before the Judiciary Committee to tell his side of the story,” according to a Politico report that published just after the Times story broke. Comey had previously declined to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. A number of House Republicans echoed calls for Comey to appear in front of Congress, and reportedly so did Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own investigation into Russian interference in the election.
The FBI is also conducting an examination of Russia’s involvement, information that Comey made public during a March congressional hearing.
The White House denied the Times report, telling the paper in a statement that “the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn. … The president has the utmost respect for our law-enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that if the reports are true, at best “Trump has committed a grave abuse of power,” or “at worst, he has obstructed justice.” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking on the Senate floor, warned that “the country is being tested in unprecedented ways.”
Some Democrats raised the specter of impeachment in reaction to the news. On Twitter, Democratic Representative Ted Deutch of Florida wrote: “Asking FBI to drop an investigation is obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense.” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Independent Senator Angus King if “we are getting closer and closer to the possibility of yet another impeachment process.” To which the Maine senator replied: “Reluctantly … I have to say yes, simply because obstruction of justice is such a serious offense.”